Tag Archives: Greek music

Artist Profiles: Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca – Photo by Tahir Palali

A journey during which the rich eastern Mediterranean traditions and western music elements blend and compose colorful soundscapes using music as their common language. The ensemble creates and performs music with respect to the character of the modal music cultures.

In 2015 Lingua Franca Ensemble was selected among several ensembles from all corners of the world, to participate in the Sharq Taronalari festival/contest held in Uzbekistan, representing Cyprus, Greece and Germany. The committee of the competition awarded Lingua Franca Ensemble with the Soul of Devotees Special Award.

In May 2016 Lingua Franca Ensemble was invited by TedX University of Piraeus (Athens, Greece) in order to present the idea behind the formation of the ensemble as well as to perform live part of the album Ephemera.

Lingua Franca Ensemble is actively involved in music education. Both as an ensemble and as individuals, they conduct workshops and seminars on their field of expertise. All the members of the ensemble are graduates of the Codarts University of the Arts, Rotterdam.

Michalis Cholevas and Michalis Kouloumis are regular teachers of the World Music Department of CODARTS, having as main subject Modal Music of the Eastern Mediterranean cultures.

The album Ephemera is a collection of original compositions that came to life when Giannis, Michalis and Michalis met in Cyprus and formed the Lingua Franca Ensemble. Ruven joined soon after.

The 2018 lineup: Michalis Cholevas on yayli tanbur, tarhu, ney; Michalis Kouloumis on violin; Giannis Koutis on oud, guitar, voice; and Ruven Ruppik on riq, darbuka, frame drums, marimba.




Captivating Sounds from the Greek Melting Pot

Loxandra Ensemble – In Transition (Dalit-Music, 2018)

Loxandra Ensemble, one of the finest world music acts from the eastern Mediterranean, has released a flavorful album titled In Transition. The Greek band delivers a superb mix of traditional Greek music, Turkish influences, Gypsy swing, Sephardic, salsa, Middle Eastern and Balkan sounds.

The band features an outstanding, delightful vocalist Ria Ellinidou and world class musicians who use a wide range of musical instruments from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond.

Loxandra Ensemble includes new members. The album lineup includes Nikos Angousis on clarinet and vocals; Foibos Apostolidis on riqq, cajon, darbuka and davul; Makis Baklatzis on violin, lead and backing vocals; Ria Ellinidou on lead vocals; Thanasis Koulentianos on kanun and backing vocals; Loukas Metaxas on acoustic and electric bass and backing vocals; Dimitris Panagoulias on darbuka and riqq; and Kyriakos Tapakis on oud.



In Transition is a beautifully-crafted album that illustrates the fascinating multiple musical influences that meet and combine in the eastern Mediterranean.

Buy the digital download or the CD from www.dalit-music.com


Artist Profiles: Vassilis Ketentzoglou

Vassilis Ketentzoglou

Greek composer, guitarist and musicologist Vassilis Ketentzoglou was born in 1979 in Athens and grew up in Rhodes island. He is formally a classical-trained classical guitarist and composer and holds a BMus from Royal Holloway, University of London, a MMus in Composition for Screen from the Royal College of Music (London) and several other degrees of music from the Hellenic Conservatory, Athens. In parallel to his classical studies, Vassilis has always been interested in other types of music; mainly, traditional music from the Middle East and the Balkans, jazz, flamenco and Latin American.

Vassilis’ main instrument is the classical guitar (which he plays in his own “ethnic” way, incorporating sounds and techniques from the flamenco guitar and the ud) and a currently not-so-well-known “new” instrument, the fretless guitar. He plays various other Greek and Middle-Eastern string instruments as well and enjoys improvising very much.

His compositions encompass many different styles – from orchestral music to Greek and Spanish songs, and from microtonal Middle-Eastern melodies on various “exotic” odd-time signatures to ethnic jazz fusion pieces. His music has been awarded in various composition competitions in Greece. Apart from composing his own music, Vassilis enjoys re-arranging and re-harmonizing various traditional and folk Greek songs.

Currently, he works as a guitarist accompanying various well-known Greek singers in concerts.


Artist Profiles: Takis Barberis

Takis Barberis

Takis Barberis Takis Barberis was born in Athens in 1963. His relationship with music began at the age of 10. He studied at the National Conservatory of Greece, classic guitar with Dimitris Fampas and higher theory with Yiannis Avgerinos, and received the Harmony certificate. Simultaneously he played electric guitar in many rock groups. In 1979 he began his interest in jazz that determined his later course. During this period he collaborated with many significant musicians as G. Trantalidis, N. Touliatos, P. Gekas and An. Georgiou.

In 1982 he presented his first compositions with the band Jazz Fusion Quintet. It is then that his cooperation with David Lynch and Takis Farazis began, continuing later in the group Iskra (1985), with G. Fakanas, N. Touliatos and L. Pliatsikas. From then he begins also his collaboration with D. Lynch and T. Farazis that would be continued and later, in the group Iskra (1985), with G. Fakanas, N. Touliatos and L. Pliatsikas. Iskra was one of the most famous and progressive groups of this period. In 1986 Iskra released their first album, ? New Day (Polygram), that includes two of his compositions.

At the period 1987 – 1989 he formed the group Model 63 with P. Hatzigiankos and K. Kalogirou in a more experimental approach of rock music with Greek lyrics, and they released the album “Model 63” (Lyra 1988).

In 1990, his first solo album was released, Something From July (Lyra, 1990), with his compositions from the 80’s, with lots of jazz, rock and Latin influences, and with the participation of T. Farazis, G. Kontrafouris, T. Paterelis and K. Kalogirou. Episodes (Lyra, 1995) is his next album with the internationally known Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu and the traditional Greek musician Petroloukas Halkias on the clarinet, and with eight very famous Greek musicians (P. Benetatos, G. Kontrafouris, T. Paterelis, Y. Kiourtsoglou, G. Vassalos, K. Kalogirou, T. Farazis & P. Kourtis). The Greek critics characterized the album as one of the most successful combinations of jazz and traditional elements (Greek and Indian music).

At his next album, Naiva (Lyra, 1998), Barberis continues and evolves the influences that were first seen in the album Episodes (with the participations of Petroloukas Halkias, Reshma Srivastava and Shankar Lal, from India).

Porto Kayio (Libra Music, 2004) featured Debashish and Subhasis Bhattacharya (from India). In Porto Kayio Barberis makes a soundtrack with voices, sounds and rhythms. Each piece is a musical homeland: Greece, India, East, Africa and once again back to his land.

Barberis has collaborated with Trilok Gurtu, Glenn Corneille and nearly all Greek musicians in the Jazz scene, and has taken part in a lot of live performances in Greece and abroad.

Since 1981 Barberis has been teaching modern guitar and improvisation in many Conservatories (National Conservatory of Patras, Pindareio, Raimondi Conservatory, R.S.I.).


Something From July (Lyra, 1990)
Episodes (Lyra, 1995)
Naiva (Lyra, 1998)
Porto Kayio (Libra Music, 2004)
In Parallel ‎(El Capitan, 2010)
Jargon (2013)
Sleeping Revolution (2018)


Artist Profiles: Stelios Petrakis

Stelios Petrakis

Composer, luthier and multi-instrumentalist Stelios Petrakis was born in 1975 and raised in Sitia, Crete. In 1983 he started lyra lessons in the Music School of Sitia with Yannis Dandolos (1983), Ross Daly (1984) and Helen Drettakis (1985-1993) under the supervision of Kostas Mountakis. He completed his studies in lyra in 1993.

In 1993, he moved to Athens where he continued his studies in lyra under the guidance of Ross Daly and started studying relevant musical traditions (popular music of Anatolia, cosmic music and religious music of Constantinople, Greek traditional music) and instruments (saz, Constantinople and Cretan lute, bulgari, Constantinople lyra). In 1999 and 2000, he attended seminars of saz in the Labyrinth Musical Workshop with the master musician Talip Ozkan.

In the Labyrinth Musical Workshop, which has been rehoused to Houdetsi, Herakleion, he attended, during the summer of 2003, a series of seminars from master musicians with broad knowledge on the instruments and the musical traditions of the East. Stelios Petrakis has collaborated with many important musicians in the world music scene (Ross Daly, Bijan Chemirani, Patrick Vaillant, Dupain, Kristi Stasinopoulou), various Cretan musicians (George Xylouris, Vassilis Stavrakakis, Zacharias Spyridakis, Michalis and Mitsos Stavrakakis, Chainides, etc.) as well as with other Greek musicians and composers (Christos Leondis, Stamatis Spanoudakis, Achilleas Persides, George Makris etc.) in concerts and recordings in Greece and abroad.

For many years he has been one of the basic members of the “Labyrinth” group, under the direction of Ross Daly, with which he has performed in numerous concerts some of which took place at Europe’s most significant venues (Theatre de la ville – Paris, Queen Elizabeth Hall – London, Cemal Resit Rey konser salonu – Istanbul, Herodeon Theatre – Athens, Megaron Mousikis Thessalonikis). In these concerts he found himself collaborating with some of the most exceptional musicians of various traditions (Trio Chemirani, Huun Huur Tu, Mehmet Erenler, Hossein Arman, Khaled Arman, Sokratis Sinopoulos, Rufus Capadoccia, Linsey Pollak, Tunji Beier, Hammid Khabazzi, Georgi Petrov, Pedram Khavar Zamini).

He has released several albums, recorded in his own personal recording studio, for both of which he has received exceptional reviews and awards from the Greek and the international press. He has performed his work in concerts in Greece (Crete, Athens) and in Europe (France, Germany and Spain). He has participated in recordings of other musicians’ works and groups such as in Ross Daly’s, Bijan Chemirani’s, Dupain’s, Christos Leondis’ etc. He is a maker of traditional instruments such as lyra, lauto and saz. He is also a graduate of the Law Department of the Athens Law School.

Read more about Stelios Petrakis: Interview with Stelios Petrakis Quartet


Oi dikoi mou filoi, with Giorgis Xylouris, Vassilis Stavrakakis and Bijan Chemirani (Seistron, 2002)
Akri tou dounia (L’empreinte digitale, 2003)
Kismet (Seistron/Buda Musique, 2003)
Orion (Aerakis, 2006/Buda Musique, 2008)
If I greet the mountains/Si je salue les montagnes, with Giorgis Xylouris (Accords Croisés 2009)
Mavra Froudia – Black Eyebrows (Melodiko Karavi/Musiepoca, 2011), with Efrén López and Bijan Chemirani
L’art de la lyra/the Art of Lyra (Ocora Radio France, 2015)
Live in Heraklion Walls (CD + DVD), with Stelios Petrakis Quartet (Buda Musique, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Michalis Nikoloudis

Michalis Nikoloudis

Michalis Nikoloudis plays mandola, baroque lute, guitar and mandolin. He participated in recordings and “live” concerts with the association of leading composers and singers in Greece as well as abroad.

Inspired by the sounds of the West the East, he composed Aeolia (Libra Music LM001, 1995), his first album, that encloses the sounds and the aromas of the Mediterranean.

His second album titled Chrismos (oracle) was released in 1997, an inspired music that composes sounds from the past and the future of Greek music (Libra Music LM006).

Melissokipos (bees-garden) was released in 1997. It is an album with songs, in lyrics written by Elias Katsoulis and with Sofia Tserou as a singer (Libra Music, LM009).

The CD single Terra Musica (FM Records, 1998), contains three of his compositions Three Faces, Three Aspects.

Under the title Gaia (1998), he revised eleven poems, creating a new sound and harmony, moving independently but at the same time and in parallel manner with Yiota Vei’s single voice (Libra Music LM015).

1922 from Asia to Europe (FM Records, 1999), is the title of the album with the participation of “aeolia strings orchestra”, following people, in the adventure of escape and their coming in new countries.

Deja Vu was released on December 2001 by Sony Classical.

Gyro Mou Ki Entos (Inside And Around Me) was released in 2003.

Women (Libra Music LM041, 2006) features vocals by Sotiria Leonardou, Foteini Velesiotou and lyrics by Magda Papadaki.


Aeolia – Αιολία (Libra Music LM001, 1995)
Chrismos – oracle (Libra Music LM006, 1997)
Gaia (Libra Music LM015, 1998)
1922 from Asia to Europe (FM Records, 1999)
Deja Vu (Sony Classical, 2001)
Gyro Mou Ki Entos – Inside And Around Me (2003)
Women (Libra Music LM041, 2006)
Aeolia 2 ‎(Polymusic, 2008)
Armenistis (Lyra)


Artist Profiles: Maria Farandouri

Maria Farandouri

Maria Farandouri (Μαρία Φαραντούρη), also known as Maria Farantouri, was born November 28, 1947 in Athens, Greece. She grew up at the time when Greece was trying to recover from the 2nd World War and the German occupation. Maria left Greece during the period of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. She joined the struggle against the dictatorship by giving thousands of concerts all over the world and in some of the largest concert halls. She became the Greek people’s symbol of resistance and hope. Maria participated in many festivals for disarmament, peace and against any social oppression singing together with other famous singers as Myriam Makeba, Juliette Greco, Maria del Mar Bonet and the Chilean group Inti Illimani.

Maria kept Mikis Theodorakis’ music alive, when it was banned from Greece, playing an important role in the movement for the revival of the Greek music. She is well known as the ideal and most authentic performer of Mikis Theodorakis’ works. Her rich contralto voice with its broad range and melodic quality combined with a fine instinct are the main features of her art.

Her expressive voice as well as the high quality of her repertory valued her outstanding reviews everywhere. Some of her major interpretations of Mikis Theodorakis are: “ Maria also performed songs by the famous Greek composer Manos Hadzidakis.

Her albums “Poetica” (Peregrina, 1996) and “Asmata” (Peregrina 1998) featured works by Mikis Theodorakis and “Triti Porta” (Minos EMI 2000) contained songs by Lena Platonos.

Aside from her artistic activities, Maria Farandouri has been a member of the Greek Parliament during the years of 1989 – 1993.


Artist Profiles: Mikis Theodorakis

Mikis Theodorakis

Composer and songwriter Mikis Theodorakis was born in 1925 on Chios island. His first compositions for voice, violin and piano were written at the end of the 1930s.

There were chamber music concerts of his compositions between 1940 and 1942 in Tripolis (Peloponnese county) where Theodorakis conducted the church choir.

In 1942 he moved to Athens and studied at the Conservatory. Theodorakis was engaged in the Resistance against Italian and German occupation. He was arrested during the civil war and deported in 1947, until 1949.

From 1950 to 1953 Theodorakis became a music critic for magazines and was also a percussionist at the Opera of Athens. During this period he began to perform regularly his classical compositions.

In 1954 Therodorakis expanded his musical studies in Paris, at the Conservatory, with Olivier Messiaen. He studied with Messiaen until 1960.

Theodorakis received a Gold medal in 1957, at the Moscow Composition Competition, for his ‘Suite No.1.’ The president of the Jury was D. Shostakovitch.

In 1959 Theodorakis explored the Theoretical analysis of the Tetrachord system. He also had an Expose with Jannis Xenakis for the ‘Reorganization of Greek Music.’ That same year he presented Antigone, a ballet musical work, in Covent Garden, London, with Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nurejev. Darius Milhaus suggested him for the Copley Music Prize as best European composer in 1959. He won.

Theodorakis decided to return to Greece in 1960, leaving the Paris classical scene. In Athens he published his folk song cycle Epitaph in cooperation with rebetiko musicians. He composed music for other Greek poets like Elytis, Seferis, and worked out a metasymphonic concept with oratorios like Axion Esti (1960).

In the early 1960s he started writing music for films and movies like Zorba The Greek (1964), The Trojan Woman (1971), Z (1969) and many others.

In 1962 Thodorakis founded the Little Athens Orchestra. He conducted concerts throughout Greece with classical music for the people.

From 1964 through 1967 he became a delegate of the left movement party in Parliament and Chairman of the Lambrakis Youth Organization, the biggest political organization in Greece.

Mikis Theodorakis was awarded the Sibelius Prize for his complete works by the International Institute of Music in London in 1965. One of the members of the jury was Pablo Casals.

The military regime banned Theodorakis’ music in 1967. After being arrested, he was exiled to Zatuna.

In 1970 he was liberated and became the founder and chairman of the Patriotic Liberation Front to unite all anti-dictatorial forces against the military junta.

Until 1974, when democracy returned to Greece, he performed more than 1000 concerts all over the world with orchestra and singers like Maria Farandouri – dedicated to his fight for democracy in Greece.

In 1974 Theodorakis conducted his oratorio Canto General in Athens. During the 1970s Theodorakis was involved in politics as an Independent Leftist. In 1978 he began his cooperation with the Communists Party, from which he separated in 1986.

Theodorakis returned to symphonic works in 1980 and presented the following works: 3rd Symphony, Sadduzaer Passion, Opera Medea (1991, Bilbao), Canto Olimpico (1992, Barcelona) and Opera Elektra (Luxembourg 1995).

In 1987 Theodorakis founded the Society for Greek and Turkish Friendship together with Zülfü Livaneli.

He ran as an independent candidate within the conservative New Democracy party in 1989 and helped establish a large coalition between conservatives, socialists and leftists. In 1990 he was elected as a delegate to the parliament and became a government minister under Konstantin Mitsotakis, where he fought against drugs and terrorism and for better relations between Greece and Turkey.

In 1990 he conducted four metasymphonic compositions (Epiphania) in 40 European cities and after 20 years he recorded his most successful songs for the first time.

Theodorakis left the government in 1992.

Often, he conducts his classical compositions in many parts of the world.

Theodorakis’ compositional work contains approx. 1000 songs and about 100 great compositions of symphony, theater and ballet, opera and oratorios.

Biographical information originally compiled by Asteridis Kutulas. Edited by Angel Romero


Mikis Theodorakis & Zülfü Livaneli — Together (Tropical)
Mikis Theodorakis — First Symphony & Adagio (Wergo/Schott)
Maria Farantouri — Poetica (Songs by Theodorakis) (Peregrina)
Mikis Theodorakis — Mikis (Peregrina)
Mikis Theodorakis — Symphony No. 4 (Wergo/Schott)
Maria Farantouri — Asmata (Songs by Theodorakis) (Peregrina)
Mikis Theodorakis — Symphony No. 7 (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — Requiem: For soloists, choir and symphonic orchestra (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — Symphonietta & Etat de Siege (Wergo/Schott)
Maria Farantouri & Rainer Kirchmann — Sun & Time: Songs by Theodorakis (Lyra)
Mikis Theodorakis — Mauthausen Trilogy: In Greek, Hebrew and English (Plaene)
Mikis Theodorakis — Carnaval — Raven (for mezzo and symphonic orchestra) (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — Resistance (historic recordings) (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — First Songs (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — Antigone/Medea/Electra (3-Opera Box) (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — The Metamorphosis of Dionysus (Opera) (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — Rhapsodies for Cello and Guitar (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis — East of the Aegean (for cello and piano) (Wergo/Schott)
Mikis Theodorakis & Francesco Diaz — Timeless (Wormland White)


Artist Profiles: Matthaios Tsahourides

Matthaios Tsahourides

Award-winning musician and composer Matthaios Tsahourides (Ματθαίος Τσαχουρίδης), also known as Matthaios Tsahouridis, was born September 18, 1978 in Veria, Greece. He is a master of the Pontic Lyra (the bottle-shaped stringed musical instrument of the Greeks of Pontos on the South Black Sea coast). Matthaios creates a sensitive and lyrical interpretation of this rich tradition of Greek music. In addition to the lyra, Tsahourides plays the violin, lauto, ud, bouzouki, guitar, kamancheh, rubab, and ghichaks.


Sea Storm
Apo Ton Ponto Stin Persia – From Pontos to Persia (Protasis, 2003)
Raz-E Negah – Kamancheh and Lira Improvisation


Artist Profiles: Makis Ablianitis

Makis Ablianitis

Makis Ablianitis was born January 29, 1964. He’s an acclaimed composer and one of the best guitar players in Greece.

His relationship with music began at the age of 15 when he got his first guitar. He studied theory by attending seminary courses of Theodoros Antoniou and at the Center of Contemporary Musical Research. Following this, he studied higher theory by graduating from the classes of Fugas and Orchestration with excellent. He concluded his studies at the Berklee Music College of Boston with a scholarship. The period of his studies at Berklee was decisive for his later course as a musician, because at the same time of his studies he had the ability to play with renowned musicians of the Boston jazz scene.

Ablianitis also in involved with the tuition of jazz music by teaching jazz guitar, modern harmony and orchestration at various auditoriums in Athens. In 1993 he formed the quartet Jazz Steps and in 1995 the group Jazz Crew. During the period of 1996 – 1998 he was a member of the ethnic group of Michalis Nikoloudis and Omar Faruk Tekbilek, participating in the concerts they gave in Greece and abroad.

His debut took place in 1997 with the album Flame Keeper (Thesis). An integral part for his career also was his collaboration with “ARTS, DANCE & MUSIC PRODUCTIONS”, in November 1999. It was involved very successful Broadway shows with American performers.

Ont his second album Bahar (Libra Music), Ablianitis met the world famous Indian flute player, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, and one of the best Greek singers, Manolis Lidakis. Bahar was very successful and many labels askrequested licenses to include Bahar tracks in their collections.

On January 2004, Makis participated in Mosaic (Libra Music), the album from the famous Greek singer Maria Farantouri (featuring: Glen Velez, Fuat Saka, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ross Daly). Makis Ablianitis contributed 3 songs to Farantouri and made all the arrangements of the album.


Flame Keeper (Thesis, 1997)
Bahar (Libra Music, 2000)
Bahar Live
Kismet (2008)
Uranos (2017)